There are two ways to say "I love you". I can say "I love you" from a space of lack. When I offer the "I love you" to the other person, what they will hear in the background is "do you love me too?", "would you say it back to me?", or "would you hold me to make me feel safe?" When I say "I love you" from that space, it's a space of lack, it means that I haven't necessarily done the work on myself to fill myself with love, and I'm waiting for the other to fill that void for me. This is not good or bad, it just makes the relationship much heavier and puts me in a state of dependency on the other person's "I love you".
When I start from a place of myself that is filled with love, filled with gratitude, filled with serenity, it is no longer a dependent "I love you" that I offer to the other, it is a light "I love you", filled with space of freedom. And that makes the relationship much freer.
Now it's up to you to choose what kind of "I love you" you want to offer. But my little finger tells me that what you want to choose is an "I love you" filled with freedom and not an "I love you" with the aim of chaining.